For years, writes Stephanie Miller at the Deliverability blog, marketers have enjoyed the linear nature of the email inbox—your newsletters and offers sitting cheek-by-jowl with personal correspondence from a subscriber’s friends. But you shouldn’t get too comfortable with this privileged arrangement.
“The world is changing,” Miller says. “A new set of inbox management tools are emerging from the global mailbox providers like Yahoo!, Hotmail/MSN and Gmail. These tools make it easier for subscribers to avoid whatever is not interesting to them.”
In essence, tools like these will create what Miller terms the Ultra Managed Inbox, where marketing messages are sent to secondary folders that might—or might not—be checked before automatic deletion.
“We can no longer ‘ride along’ for attention by cozying up to personal messages,” she notes. “We must re-earn our way into the inbox, or at least into a folder that subscribers check frequently.”
Miller has some recommendations for doing so. Here are a few:
- Segment your “from” addresses. The actual email experience must be unique and tied to the “from” address, Miller advises. That’s because services like Hotmail Sweep now filter an entire “from” address—not simply the domain. “We as marketers know the nuance between marketing@ and transactional@,” she explains, “but subscribers may not.”
- Impress new subscribers with the quality of your messages. Remember that your initial messages will likely make it straight to their inbox. “This is the chance to be relevant, and earn the right to stay in the inbox,” she says. “Give considerable thought to the first 3-5 messages a new subscriber receives.”
Times are changing—again. The Ultra Managed Inbox has plenty of potential for email marketers, argues Miller, “but only if we get ready now and start testing what it really means to engage and compete with the clutter surrounding our messages.”